Painting takes pride of place in town museum

The oldest painting of Swaffham Market has been restored. With the painting is museum manager Sue Ga

The oldest painting of Swaffham Market has been restored. With the painting is museum manager Sue Gattuso. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

It's the oldest known painting of Swaffham Market Place, and it's now on show for the summer season at the town's museum.

The painting, which dates back to the early 19th century, was in the London Road museum's store rooms for many years before being rediscovered.

As it was in a very poor condition, it was sent to the museum conservators and has been tidied up using money from the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, given for the 800 Swaffham Market Celebration last year.

Museum manager Sue Gattuso said: 'Going by the buildings shown in the painting we think it dates back to 1803-17.

'It's by an unknown artist. It's a watercolour on paper. It's looking much clearer now. Some details have been enhanced and enlarged for visitors to view, with a copy of the entire painting displayed in a light box.'

She said the view of the market place had not changed greatly in 200 years.

'The view is quite similar now. The Butter Cross is still there. In the picture there's a lovely view of the Brandon/ Fakenham mail coach, which, obviously, no longer runs. The Assembly Rooms are still there. The town pit, which people and animals could drink from, was probably moved to the right after the painting. The writing on top says it 'a south-west view of Swaffham', but it is actually a view north, taken from the south-west.'

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The painting ended up in the museum's collection after it was bequeathed to the parish church, when it also housed a small Swaffham museum.

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